THIBODAUX — Austin Allen gets asked the same question a lot.
Everyone wants to know what it’s like for him to succeed his prolific older brother Brandon as Arkansas’ newest quarterback. When a reporter posed that question to Allen at the Manning Passing Academy on Friday for what was likely the umpteenth time, the rising junior just shrugged and chuckled.
“It’s great. It’s been like that since I can remember, just competing with him and trying to follow in his footsteps,” Allen said. “It’s been like that since junior high. I’m trying to do the same things that I’ve always done.”
He credits Brandon for making him “a better player and person,” but the younger Allen has significant shoes to fill as the Razorbacks’ starting quarterback.
Brandon started 38 games during his Arkansas career, during which he finished second in program history in completions (583) and third in passing yards (7,463) and completion percentage (57.4). After the Razorbacks went winless in the SEC in 2013, he guided them to a pair of winning seasons and two resounding bowl victories.
Serving as his brother’s backup, Allen completed 9-of-19 passes for 188 yards, a touchdown and an interception over eight games. But since then, he has impressed Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema enough to earn designation as the starting quarterback.
“I got named the starter about halfway through spring,” Allen said. “Just trying to take the next leadership role into the summer and carry that into the fall.”
The Fayetteville, Arkansas, native will try to provide his team with the same level of production as Brandon, a sixth round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in this year’s NFL Draft. He’ll also be eyeing upsets of SEC powers like LSU, which his older brother defeated twice.
“It’s a big game, the Battle of the Boot,” Allen said, smiling. “We always want to keep the Boot.”
Kelly feeling ‘100 percent’
Fortunately for Chad Kelly, Ole Miss didn’t play a spring game this year.
Construction at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium forced the team to do without its annual “Grove Bowl,” which Kelly would have missed after undergoing sports hernia surgery in late March. But the rising senior quarterback said he feels fully healthy well ahead of the Rebels’ season opener against Florida State on Sept. 5.
“I’m 100 percent,” Kelly said at the Manning Passing Academy on Friday. “I feel really good.”
The former junior college transfer took the SEC by storm in 2015, breaking or tying 14 single-season program records. He amassed 4,542 total yards and 41 total touchdowns, eclipsing 4,000 passing yards while leading Ole Miss to 10 wins and a Sugar Bowl victory.
Kelly briefly contemplated entering the NFL Draft before announcing his decision to return for his senior season. After an explosive junior year, he’s now focused on the mental side of the game.
“Just getting to know the offense more, that’s really what it’s about,” Kelly said. “I’ve got to keep working on my dropback passes. But other than that, just kind of getting the footwork down and getting ready to go, seeing stuff before it happens.”